Did it bother her that she wanted revenge?

More chapters from A Year Without Killing

A VG Serial: A Year Without Killing

Chapter 8

Claudia and Star stepped across the street from Jersey City’s Hyatt Regency and got a booth in Marker’s, an upscale American bar. They ordered drinks and while they waited, Claudia reminded her unexpected guest, “You asked me about some group of men?”

“The League of Old Men. Ever heard of it?”

“No. Sounds like something from Jack London,” Claudia replied.

“His fictional story was about a group of old Native American men and the title was actually, ‘The League of the Old Men.’ Great story of revenge, but this is something entirely different.”

“Okay, tell me about it, or them, whatever.”

Star answered, “Supposed to be a gang of former Hell’s Angels with a desire to preserve their culture, Viet Nam veterans obsessed with a sense of justice usually reserved for vigilantes, maverick cops and detectives determined to execute appropriate sentences—with or without a judge and jury. There are rumors of disbarred lawyers joining and a possible connection between LOOM and the U.S. Congress. Many of their deeds have attracted worldwide attention while others are known only to their victims. Membership is estimated in the thousands, but none will claim to be card-carriers.”

“Never heard of ‘em.”

Star was satisfied with Claudia’s denial, so she took the conversation in a different direction, “Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?”

Claudia laughed out loud, “Considering what you must know about me already, I can assure you I was nowhere near the grassy knoll.”

Star relaxed a bit, smiled, and volunteered, “Well, I wasn’t born then.”

“I was in the sixth grade with a classroom full of other baby boomers. Our teacher had been out of the room and returned crying. School was dismissed early that day. I don’t mind talking about it, but what does it have to do with why you wanted to speak with me?”

“We’re getting to it. Just bear with me. Do you believe in conspiracy theories?”

“A dear friend of mine, ex-FBI, does. He’s convincing with his reliance on the conspiracy theory of history.”

“You agree?”

“I said, ‘he’s convincing.’” Claudia took a sip of her vodka/cran and kept talking, “He says there are only two theories of history—conspiracy, where everything is planned, and the second, random, where events are neither planned nor caused.”

Star leaned forward hanging on every word, “There must be more…”

He says, “If you believe it is all an accident or the result of mysterious and unexplainable tides of history, you will be regarded as an ‘intellectual’ who understands that we live in a complex world. If you believe that something like 86,969 consecutive coincidences over the past seventy years stretches the law of averages a bit, you are a kook.”

“I believe in conspiracy theories, too, but for different reasons.”

“You’ve got my attention, keep talking,” said Claudia.

“I have been and still am on the inside of the grand scheme.”

“Convince me,” Claudia challenged.

Star drained her glass and signalled for another round, “Are you familiar with what Jackie Kennedy said on television after the assassination?”

“She said a lot. What do you have in mind?”

“It was one of those Sunday magazine shows that was so popular. I think it was Mike Wallace who interviewed her. She said, ‘They’ve killed my husband.’ Then, later in the same show, when the interviewer asked who ‘they’ were, legend has it that she answered, “If I revealed their identities, they wouldn’t like it.”

“And your point is?”

“I know who ‘they’ are.”

Claudia took another sip of her drink and thought for a moment. She’s either in danger and wants my help, or she wants to hire me. How much does she really know? “Star, we probably know more about each other than either is willing to say or admit.”

Star smiled.

Claudia continued, “My ex-FBI friend says he knows who they are, too. So what?”

“I’ve been inside the organization and can name names. As one example, I can tell you they have paid for your services on more than one occasion. Although I wasn’t around at the time, it was your third assignment.”

Claudia could not hide her reaction. A chill raced down her spine. She placed her glass on the table with care. She leaned back in the booth and inhaled a long deep breath.

Star did not let up, “I know of others in more recent years. I confess, I made the phone calls to place the orders on at least two of your assignments myself.”

The self confession was the opening Claudia had hoped to find, “Welcome to the club my dear. Your phone calls put you into the same light as the person who squeezed the trigger. Your finger did the damage before the cross hairs were set. The shooter probably never realized when the round was fired.”

“You’re into Zen aren’t you? So ‘into the moment’ you don’t realize the target is falling and it’s because of you,” Star accused.

“Does it bother you so much you want revenge?” Claudia asked.

“I don’t consider solving a problem for the world as being revenge,” answered Star. “How do you view your work?”

“Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m a do-gooder ridding society of undesirables or just a psychopath taking out the trash.”

“Someone has to take out the garbage.”

“I just heard you ask me to complete an assignment for you.”

“This must be a first for you. I mean receiving a direct request for a job from the person who wants to hire you.”

Claudia chose not to answer.

“But you heard wrong. All I want is some advice,” Star clarified.

“Trade secrets.”

“Shop talk.”

“Even if you followed my instructions, if I gave you any, you’d likely end up dead.”

“That’s my problem. I came prepared to make it worth your while.”

“What do you propose?”

“At least one more meeting, maybe two, but I’ve got a trip planned first.”

“None of my business where, but how long?”

Star smiled again. It was one of those smiles with two meanings. Thank you and also goodbye. “I’ll be unavailable for about two weeks and during that time one of my stops will be Jekyll Island.”

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  • marthaorlando

    You hook me further and reel me in closer with every chapter, Chip. This is brilliant!

    • Thanks Martha.
      I appreciate the feedback. It’s nice to know what I’m doing is working.

  • E.E. Giorgi

    Jekyll Island, again. I have an inkling Claudia will have to join the party there too … can’t wait to see what happens next!